Toughen Up, U.S. Cartoonists Warn Newspaper Editors

Imagine waking up as an American editorial cartoonist on Tuesday, January 7th. You go into work (if you are one of the lucky ones still employed), sharpen your pencil and sit down to read news of the bloody massacre of your colleagues and friends, the only people who truly understand you.

In the close-knit cartooning community, January 7th, the day Islamist terrorists executed four cartoonists and eight other journalists at Charlie Hebdo in Paris, will be remembered henceforth as Black Tuesday.

Charlie Hebdo shootings were ‘indescribable barbarity’: Anatomy of a terror attack


Warning: Disturbing content

The deadly attack in Paris began as most do, with normality turning to mayhem without clear warning: A black Citroën C3 hatchback, an innocuous car in the French capital, pulled to a halt near the Rue Nicolas Appert offices of Charlie Hebdo around 10:20 a.m., local time.

Masked, black-clad men with machine guns climbed out.

Just two hours before, the satirical newspaper had tweeted a goading cartoon of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, leader of the ISIS terrorist group — meaning the day started as any other might at the biting, secularist weekly.

Security was always tight at Charlie Hebdo‘s offices. The paper had moved to its location near the Bastille monument in 2011 after its former office was firebombed the day after running a caricature of the Prophet Muhammad on its cover.

The gunmen reportedly went the wrong way inside the building, having to stop and ask where the newspaper offices are and then shooting at the people answering.

The opportunity to breach the security came when the gunmen saw a cartoonist, Corinne Rey, approach her newspaper’s office with her child; they confronted her and forced her to push the office’s security code.

“I just went to get my daughter from daycare. As I got to the front door of the building, two masked, armed gunmen brutally threatened us,” she told Paris newspaper L’Humanité. “They wanted to enter, go up. I typed in the code.”

Ms. Rey hid while the gunmen moved to the editorial offices on the second floor. They dressed and moved like commandos.

They spoke perfect French and said they were from Al-Qaeda, she said. Al-Qaeda, the terrorist group behind the 9/11 attacks, had reportedly placed a bounty on the head of editor Stéphane Charbonnier last year for his perceived blasphemy.

Guillaume Baptiste; Bertrand Guay; Francois Guillot; Francois Guillot/Getty Images

Guillaume Baptiste; Bertrand Guay; Francois Guillot; Francois Guillot/Getty ImagesFrom left: Charlie Hebdo’s deputy chief editor Bernard Maris, cartoonists Georges Wolinski, Jean Cabut (aka Cabu), Charb and Tignous.

Upstairs, the newspaper’s senior staff was in their weekly editorial meeting when the gunmen started targeting journalists, reportedly seeking out certain cartoonists by name.

Ten newspaper staff members were killed including Mr. Charbonnier, 47. Many others others were injured, some critically.

“It lasted five minutes,” Ms. Rey said.

Journalists at a neighbouring news outlet saw the gunmen enter and heard shots fired. Some ran to the roof. Police were alerted and citizens with phone cameras snuck pictures and video from behind windows and on balconies as the gunmen emerged, returning to their car apparently driven by a waiting accomplice.

Outside the carnage continued.


ANNE GELBARDANNE GELBARD/AFP/Getty ImagesArmed gunmen face police officers near the offices of the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris.

On a residential street nearby, Boulevard Richard Lenoir, the Citroën stopped again. A video shows two men stepping out and firing at a police officer with their Kalashnikov rifles. The officer is then seen lying on the sidewalk as the men approach, one covering the other in military style.

In the video, the injured officer raises a hand, either in defence or surrender, but the gunmen ignore his plea; one hops over him — firing pointblank at the officer’s head. Returning to the car one gunman makes a hand gesture, what looks like an upward finger, like a soccer player’s goal celebration, and the Citroën resumes its journey.

The downed officer has been identified as Ahmed Merabet, 42, a Muslim patrolman assigned to the district of the newspaper’s office.

Another police officer is among the dead, reported to be Mr. Charbonnier’s bodyguard, assigned to protect the journalist after prior threats against the editor — himself a cartoonist — who had been unyielding to his critics, saying freedom of expression demanded satirical reflection.


YouTubeArmed gunmen shown near the offices of the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris on Jan. 7, 2015.

An arriving police car tried to block the road the Citroën was on and was peppered with gunfire. Photographs showed 15 bullet holes in the cruiser’s windshield.

The video revealed gunmen who appear to have training or practice, moving with precision and in coordination.

Various reports say the men called out “we have avenged the Prophet Muhammad” and “Allahu Akbar” during the attack.

Wandrille Lanos, a TV reporter who works across the road from Charlie Hebdo, was one of the first to enter the newspaper’s office after the attack. He said it had been a slaughter.

“As we progressed into the office, we saw that the number of casualties was very high. There was a lot of people dead on the floor, and there was blood everywhere,” he said.

Thibault Camus/The Associated Press

Thibault Camus/The Associated PressAn injured person is evacuated outside the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo’s office, in Paris on Wednesday.

The abandoned Citroën was recovered in northern Paris, on Rue de Meaux, and the gunmen apparently hijacked a different vehicle to further their escape.

Police seized the abandoned car and scoured it for clues to the identity of the gunmen and where they might be hiding or heading. A major police investigation continues. Bernard Cazeneuve, France’s Interior Minister, said three attackers were being sought.

Francois Hollande, France’s President, rushed to the newspaper’s offices, where he declared the killings a terrorist attack and offered condolences and assurances.

“An act of indescribable barbarity has just been committed today in Paris,” he said. “Measures have been taken to find those responsible, they will be hunted for as long as it takes to catch them and bring them to justice.”

In the evening, French police sources said three suspects had been identified. Two officials named them as Frenchmen Said Kouachi and Cherif Kouachi, both in their early 30s, and 18-year-old Hamyd Mourad, whose nationality was not clear.

One of the officials said they were linked to a Yemeni terrorist network. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss the investigation. Cherif Kouachi was convicted in 2008 of terrorism charges for helping funnel fighters to Iraq’s insurgency and sentenced to 18 months in prison.

Early Thursday, a major police operation was underway in Reims, about 90 miles from Paris.

AFP, citing sources, reported that the 18-year-old suspect had surrendered to police at 11 p.m. local time Wednesday after “seeing his name circulating on social media.”

As news of the attack spread Wednesday, a vast, monumental gulf was revealed as thousands gathered in Paris — some symbolically holding aloft pens as a symbol of freedom of expression — to express sorrow and anger at the massacre whilst jihadists celebrated it with laudatory tweets and joyous praise for the fugitive gunmen.

Gary Clement/National Post

Gary Clement/National Post

Huge vigils formed in Paris and other cities, with public gatherings planned for cities around the world. A global social media campaign of solidarity — #JeSuisCharlie, or “I am Charlie” — quickly emerged.

Shocked and outraged cartoonists, for whom the attack struck particularly close, reacted with their weapon of choice — they issued a flood of forceful, pithy and darkly revealing cartoons.

It was an homage and response that Mr. Charbonnier would likely have embraced.

But jihadists and jihadi sympathizers viewed the attack starkly different, praising it through social media in what the SITE Intelligence Group, which tracks jihadists online, called “unanimous celebration.”

Mr. Hollande on national television Wednesday night said of the slain journalists: “They are today our heroes.”

Paris remained on its highest security alert, with police and military guards placed at tourist sites, media outlets, major stores and other potential targets.

National Post with files from Daily Telegraph and Associated Press

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North Korean student and son of executed Kim Jong-un uncle’s aide on run from Pyongyang agents in France: diplomats

A North Korean student, the son of an aide to Kim Jong-un’s executed uncle, is on the run in France after evading an abduction attempt by Pyongyang’s agents, according to foreign diplomats.

“There was an attempt to force him to go back, but it is thought he escaped and is somewhere in France. There is an attempt to locate him but he hasn’t been found yet,” said one diplomatic source.

The architecture student, referred to only by his surname Han, vanished from Paris last month. He is believed to be the son of a close confidant of Jang Song-thaek, Mr Kim’s once powerful uncle who was executed last December on treason charges. His father was killed recently as part of the purge of Jang’s allies.

“Since the 1980s, when the regime changes and someone is executed and his relatives and friends and family are studying abroad, they are brought home,” said Park Sung-jin, Paris correspondent for Yonhap, South Korea’s biggest news agency. “If Han returned he would likely be kept in a political prison or executed. That has happened many times. He knew what was awaiting him, so he escaped.”

The student’s disappearance has lifted the lid on the murky ties between France and the communist regime.

Despite having no official diplomatic relations with the dictatorship, France has invited North Korean students from privileged backgrounds to study architecture in Paris since 2002.

Mr Han was studying at the prestigious Ecole Nationale Superieure d’Architecture de Paris-La Villette. He had left North Korea for the French capital in 2012, along with nine other North Koreans, five of whom are posted at another architecture school in Belleville. They are in their third year of a five-year course. “We didn’t decide out of the blue to take on students from North Korea, the decision was made by the French culture ministry to whom we answer. This is over our heads,” said a head teacher at the La Villette school, who recalled her surprise when the first batch of students turned up wearing badges with the portrait of their “Dear Leader”.

The students were kept under close surveillance, she said. “There is often an Asian man in a three-piece suit waiting in the courtyard, checking up on attendance and if they get good results,” she added. “When one failed part of his exam and was sent home, a representative from the North Korean delegation in Paris wanted to take it in his place. We had to explain that wasn’t possible.”

After long denying its existence, the French foreign ministry confirmed that a “cooperation programme” involving “students from North Korea trained in architecture in Paris” had been in place for the past decade.

It had no further comment.

The programme was set up by Jean-Noel Juttet, a former French ambassador to Japan, who said he was asked by the French foreign ministry to find ways of “maintaining contact between the two countries”.

Homing in on education, he said the French suggested courses in “priority sectors, like medicine, food or construction” but that the North Koreans were interested in only one field: architecture.

“That was a request that came all the way from the top. They insisted so much that we ended up agreeing,” he told Street Press, an online news site that first uncovered the student programme.

The students are supposed to help transform Pyongyang’s skyline with new, cutting-edge architectural designs, such as the Ryugyong hotel, a 1,000ft building completed in 2012. They have reportedly been behind designs for a new ice skating rink, dolphinarium and sports centre opened last year to help North Korea become a “new society of leisure”.

Architecture is not Kim Jong-un’s only area of interest in France. In April, it also emerged that the Emmental-loving despot had ordered three officials to attend a crash course in cheese-making at a dairy school in eastern France – reportedly because he was dissatisfied with his country’s attempts at dairy production. The school politely declined.

Luka Rocco Magnota guilty of first-degree murder

Graham Hughes / The Canadian Press

MONTREAL — After a little more than seven days of deliberations, eight women and four men decided the 32-year-old Scarborough native knew exactly what he was doing when he brought Jun Lin to his apartment on May 24, 2012, then slit his throat and cut him into 10 pieces.

He knew what he was doing when he bought mailing boxes to send Lin’s feet and hands, wrapped in pink tissue paper, to schools in Vancouver and to the Liberal and Conservative parties of Canada.

He knew what he was doing when he videotaped hours spent with Lin, then edited portions together, added music and uploaded the end result to the Internet under the title One Lunatic One Ice Pick.

The jury, who sat through 12 long weeks of testimony from 66 witnesses from three countries didn’t buy the defence argument that Magnotta was not criminally responsible for his actions because of his mental illness.

Instead, they found him guilty on all five counts against him: first degree murder, indignity to a human body, producing and distributing obscene material, sending obscene material through the mail and harassing Prime Minister Stephen Harper and other MPs.

First-degree murder carries an automatic life sentence with no chance for parole for 25 years.

Graham Hughes / The Canadian PressDiran Lin, father of Jun Lin, is shown at the Montreal Courthouse on the eight day of jury deliberations in the murder trial for Luka Rocco Magnotta Tuesday, December 23, 2014. Magnotta is charged in connection with the death and dismemberment of university student Jun Lin in a case that made international headlines. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

Throughout most of his trial, Magnotta has sat bent over in the prisoner’s box, out of sight from most in the courtroom. A few times, he shuffled over to the intercom telephone to communicate with his lawyer, Luc Leclair, but otherwise, appeared either heavily medicated or disinterested in the proceedings.

Thanks to copious surveillance video footage from Magnotta’s Décarie Blvd. apartment, a Jean Coutu pharmacy, Pierre Elliott Trudeau airport, and a hotel lobby and bus station in Paris, as well as 15 videos Magnotta himself shot of his crime, the jury had the unique opportunity to trace practically every step of the killer.

The Canadian Press

The Canadian Press Magnotta (right) is seen entering his Montreal apartment building the night of May 24, 2012 accompanied by Jun Lin.

They saw Magnotta casually entering his apartment with Lin at about 10 p.m. May 24 after they met through a Craigslist ad that Magnotta said he posted. Throughout the early hours of May 25, Magnotta is caught on camera going in and out of the building, carrying a suitcase, garbage bags and a puppy. He’s seen making 16 trips to the garbage room in the basement of his apartment building. He’s seen checking himself out in the lobby mirror, adjusting his wig and observing his buttocks.

At one point, a pizza delivery man arrives with food for Magnotta.

From the summer of 2012:

During the day May 25, Magnotta is picked up on surveillance cameras at Jean Coutu, exchanging mailing boxes that proved too small for Lin’s extremities, then mailing the packages at the Canada Post kiosk.

On May 26, the clean-up of his apartment and disposal of the body parts complete, Magnotta cabbed it to Dorval to catch the flight to Paris that he’d booked on Expedia the day before.

Once in France, Magnotta’s path was tracked through hotel reservations at two hotels – one made under a false name – as well as surveillance cameras in the lobby of one of those hotels. He also spent a night with a man he met online while still in Montreal and planning his trip to Europe.

News broke about an international warrant for Magnotta’s arrest once police in Canada made the connection through things seen in the online video and items found in the garbage behind Magnotta’s apartment, such as a Casa Blanca poster. Magnotta hopped an overnight bus to Berlin, where he once again stayed with a man he’d met on an online dating site.

His narcissism may have been his downfall. On June 4, 2012, while viewing news stories about the international manhunt for him, Magnotta was arrested by German police. The manager of the Internet café Magnotta chose for his browsing was a news junkie who recognized the wanted man and alerted police.

Once surrounded by police officers Magnotta announced, “You got me. I’m the man you’re looking for.

Crown prosecutor Louis Bouthillier successfully convinced the jury that Magnotta planned Lin’s killing and that the warnings were there months before it happened.

Alex West, a journalist with the Sun newspaper in London, interviewed Magnotta in December, 2011 about videos of kitten killings that at the time Magnotta was suspected of making and posting online. (During his trial, it was revealed that he was, in fact, the author behind them).

After the interview, Magnotta sent an email to the paper, saying, “…but next time you hear from me it will be in a movie I am producing, that will have some humans in it, not just pussys (sic).”

He told the paper that he enjoyed watching “millions of people get angry and frustrated” because they can’t catch him.

“It’s so fun watching people work so hard gathering all the evidence, then not being able to name me or catch me,” he wrote.